How to be more aggressive when chip leader on final table?

J

jedk

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Hey,

I've got some questions about being more aggressive when chip leader on the final table of a tournament. Specifically, tips on how to be a chip bully without allowing low stacked players to get back into the game.

This all comes from a tournament I was at tonight with my friend, and this topic relates to him. Before I get into that, however, I'll talk a bit about the tourney. It was relatively small, with 45 players starting with 1500 chips each. I played solidly all night and by the final two tables (16 players) I had about 10k chips and was ready to make a move to hit the final table with all guns blazing.

However I got outplayed on my table, and I just scraped through to make the final table (8 players) with 1.5k chips left. (Got hit by an A high flush when I had the K high flush, and a couple of other good hands I had got beaten).

Meanwhile my friend was also at the final table, and he was chip leader, sitting pretty with 30k chips out of the 67.5k total. The second highest was a guy with about 15k chips, a couple of guys had about 6k, and the rest all had between 3 and 5k. I was the short stack with my 1.5k.

Now this is where it gets problematic. My friend, who had become the chip leader thanks to a lot of luck (he's a good player, but isn't the best). He'd hit straights off the flop, flushes off the flop, two pair off the flop, all night. He isn't used to being chip leader, and it showed.

To start with, he would only call or fold, or if he did raise, it would only be to twice the BB maximum. He was more concerned with protecting his chip lead instead of bullying other players and making them fold, as I would have done.

Meanwhile I tripled up after hitting KK on the second hand of the final table, and I also pulled in a nice pot after my Q5 spades hit a flush on the turn. I got back to about 15k, before being called in by another guy and having my JJ beaten by him hitting his A on the river. I finished fourth, a good effort I felt after coming into the final table in eighth, basically in a do or die situation.

But back to my friend. He slowly watched his chips disappear, after he refused to call bets from the remaining players, who began to take advantage of my friend's inability to bully. Eventually my friend came to heads up against the other remaining player, and my friend lost, coming second in the tourney. It was a pretty bad performance considering he was the clear chip leader when the final table began, and if he hadn't played so timidly, he could have won easily.

So I'm here asking for advice that I can tell my friend about how he should have played in his situation. If he'd gone all in a few times at the start of the last table, surely he could have stolen some blinds and scared off guys holding hands like Q 10, J 9, etc who wouldn't want to leave the tourney just yet. And if only my friend had called when he had hands like A 7, instead of folding, he would have won - half the time he folded an A, an A hit on the flop or turn.

So if anyone has any advice about how to play as chip leader on the final table, it would be most appreciated. Thanks.
 
dj11

dj11

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A recent tourney and some devastating play by the chip leader early in the final table brings this to mind.

The chip leader got into a frame of mind that she would only allow all in decisions to be made. Playing any two cards she pushed, hard, HARD. Conventional wisdom says that at some point the others have to play back, sometimes with nothing but good looking air. In my case my good looking air was 1010. I beat her to the punch all in, and she called with relative rags, Q8. My play was correct, being as she owned about half the chips at the table, her play wasn't totally donkish, she got lucky.

The point is that being chip leader is not a social position in a poker game, you can not be just the cop, you must be the enforcer! It is a frame of mind. There is the social aspect of the game, and I do pretty well there, and then there is the sport aspect of the game, where confrontation should be handled on my terms whenever possible. If I try to confront you on your terms, I am at a disadvantage, even though I may be ahead.

Try to tell your friend that in that case he relied a bit to much on luck, and not enough on the skill he obviously has to have gotten that far.
 
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bubbasbestbabe

bubbasbestbabe

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A recent tourney and some devastating play by the chip leader early in the final table brings this to mind.

The chip leader got into a frame of mind that she would only allow all in decisions to be made. Playing any two cards she pushed, hard, HARD. Conventional wisdom says that at some point the others have to play back, sometimes with nothing but good looking air. In my case my good looking air was 1010. I beat her to the punch all in, and she called with relative rags, Q8. My play was correct, being as she owned about half the chips at the table, her play wasn't totally donkish, she got lucky.

The point is that being chip leader is not a social position in a poker game, you can not be just the cop, you must be the enforcer! It is a frame of mind. There is the social aspect of the game, and I do pretty well there, and then there is the sport aspect of the game, where confrontation should be handled on my terms whenever possible. If I try to confront you on your terms, I am at a disadvantage, even though I may be ahead.

Try to tell your friend that in that case he relied a bit to much on luck, and not enough on the skill he obviously has to have gotten that far.


Lol and who was that player? :p In tournament play the chip leader has to take charge. Chip leaders need to be aggressive. Yes I know that players are going to play back.
But there are times on the table,(and we've all been there), when you get a run of phenomenal luck. I do not insult Lady Luck but bow to her and go with the run. I was in one of those runs. Afterwards when I was out of the run, JCQ and I had a great heads up match where skill and luck both played a part of the game.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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A general rule to consider as the big stack: pick on the medium stacks, not the small stacks. In fact, having a very short player around can be a huge help to the chip leader, since the other players will be waiting for the short stack to be eliminated, and will be unwilling to take risks until then. As the big stack you can really exploit this.

In general you want to be the one doing the pushing/raising, not the one calling. These raised do not have to be that huge, especially if everyone else has an M of around 20. You only want to raise enough to get the job done, not to risk a large amount to win a small amount.

If you are willing to raise with nothing but position, then you can afford to lay some hands down when you get played back at-- your previous steals "pay for" the time you get caught. But you would be amazed at how card dependent your opponents will become: most wont play back at you w "air", but will actually wait to find a hand like TT. In the mean time, the rich get richer!
 
Arjonius

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I'd add that you want to be aware which players are easier to bully. It's often the medium stacks, but rocks are are also good candidates regardless of their stack sizes.
 
Bluffieboy

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I've found at alot of the lower level MT SnG's the chips leaders sit and try to protect their chips hoping to get 2nd no matter what and just wait for the others to bust themselfs out, mind you it means everyone is usually sitting there for about 2 hours folding back and forth to get deeper in the money.
 
C

chatoman

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The chipleader has to be agressive, but not donkey agressive, he should avoid get in confrontations with the second stack of the table unless he has the rockets or something big.

I usually tend to bully the medium stacks with medium suited connectors which can improve on the flop (or you can steal pots with them if no letters hit the flop)

The thing is not giving away your chips, of course bully the shortstacked but with a decent game (suited connectors, two letters, Ax, for example)

Best regards
 
S

shark vs fish

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You can try the following, if you have big enough stack:

- Raise big preflop almost every hand(4x or bigger), especially bigger if early position or if you hold Ace-high, King-high etc. So if called or reraised all in, you can call with a decent shot to win. Otherwise you steal pots. Vary the raise sizes so there's no pattern to your play.

- You can also try check-raising on the turn after calling flop bet if someone's giving action. Say someone 1/3 your stack size and you hit the flop. You check, he bets 2/3 pot, you slowplay then call. On turn you check quickly. He would in this case bet again. Then you quickly hit the 3-4x reraise. He wouldn't know WHAT to do. Even if you got nothing. What's he to do, call or reraise you all in knowing that you don't care about his all-in due to your stack size??

When I do that, 9 times out of 10 they fold. That's more than enough to make up for the one time they call or reraise all-in, and even with nothing I still have the river to draw Ace pair or something.
 
S

shark vs fish

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Another thing is, say lowest stack goes all-in preflop, if chip leader with huge stack has anything A-high or K9 or whatever, they gotta call. On the bubble final table is where men separate themselves from the boys who finish on the bubble or just inside money. They fold fold fold or call and fold during this part of the game. The ones who want to win the tourney go for it and bust the small stacks to race away.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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You can try the following, if you have big enough stack:

- Raise big preflop almost every hand(4x or bigger), especially bigger if early position or if you hold Ace-high, King-high etc. So if called or reraised all in, you can call with a decent shot to win. Otherwise you steal pots. Vary the raise sizes so there's no pattern to your play.

- You can also try check-raising on the turn after calling flop bet if someone's giving action. Say someone 1/3 your stack size and you hit the flop. You check, he bets 2/3 pot, you slowplay then call. On turn you check quickly. He would in this case bet again. Then you quickly hit the 3-4x reraise. He wouldn't know WHAT to do. Even if you got nothing. What's he to do, call or reraise you all in knowing that you don't care about his all-in due to your stack size??

When I do that, 9 times out of 10 they fold. That's more than enough to make up for the one time they call or reraise all-in, and even with nothing I still have the river to draw Ace pair or something.

Another thing is, say lowest stack goes all-in preflop, if chip leader with huge stack has anything A-high or K9 or whatever, they gotta call. On the bubble final table is where men separate themselves from the boys who finish on the bubble or just inside money. They fold fold fold or call and fold during this part of the game. The ones who want to win the tourney go for it and bust the small stacks to race away.

This advice is pretty bad, or at the very least, misleading. Let's take a look:
1. Raise big preflop. I understand that the chips you are spending on the raise mean less to you than to your opponent. However, 2.5x the bb is usually enough to get the job done at this stage. Why risk more than you need to?
2. Vary the raise size. No. Keep the raise size consistent, whether you have aa or 72-- don't give your information on the strength of your hand. You might not think there is a pattern, but people just are not very good at self randomizing.
3. Slowplay the flop. No. If you are playing the aggressive roll of chip leader and bullying the table there is just never a need to play your hand slowly. You will get action on your made hands due to your image.
4. Call the small stacks all in with a marginal hand. Absolutely NOT. You are not obligated to be the sheriff. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, having a very small stack at the table can actually benefit you, as the other player will be waiting for that person to go broke before taking any real risks. Meanwhile you can pillage their blinds.
 
Thewebmaster

Thewebmaster

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Great thread

Hi all,
I love reading these posts, strategies etc...posted a few myself a year or so ago, aliengenius i'd like to see you play, I would imagine you could be quite an opponent.
I've never talked much about final table strategies before, for me as with all tournaments a lot depends on the other players, I don't think i've ever played two tournaments using the same strategy, I use several strategies and change my play a lot during the course of a game.
The final table is almost at times like a seperate tourney (on a MTT), one thing I do almost every time on the final table is find out what the other players are playing like, it also depends on wether or not the final table is in the money or if it is only paying 5 or 8 spots. You will get a lot of players make the final table and not care because they are in the money, i'm sure there are players who just play to make the money then take big risks not worrying if they go out or not, taking the attitude "either double up or go".
My initial aim is to come in the money, once in the money my aim turns to first place. Each final table is different depending on the other players, you may get to the final table and 3 of the remaining 10 may just keep going all-in pre-flop because they've made the money, in this instance i'd let them fight it out, when you get down to the last 6 or 7 who are actually trying to make first place then you can get back into playing real poker, sometimes aggressive play works at this stage sometimes it doesn't. Every final table i've ever been on has played out differently, not because of the cards, because of the players.
I've played a $100 sit-n-go at pacific in the past and couldn't believe my eyes when 4 of the 6 players went all-in pre-flop putting me in the money without having to play a hand, that particular game I won because the chip leader was pushing me all-in every hand, it played like a freeroll. Usually the larger money tourneys are not played like that and it was a one off, the point is even if your chip leader on the final table it doesn't always do you any good being super aggressive, you still need to play skillfully and not rely on luck, i'm still prepared to fold to a small stack if the odds aren't in my favour, it just makes sense.
Don't want to go on too much, just my thoughts on what i've read so far, good thread.

Tony :)
 
A

amespop

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Interesting opinions.The need to bully. Whats up with that? Maybe you are the chip leader. Did you get there by Bullying?.of course not, you got there because of smart play and alot of luck. I've seen a many large stack disappear by stupidity. All of a sudden aggressive play takes the place of smart play. The most dangerous player at a table is the medium and short stack. they know they're facing elimination so they'll come with guns loaded. and you'll pull an all in prefolp to intimate them. lol what you will do is let them back into the game. So keep your wits about you and you'll remain the leader and collect the riches
 
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